Fitness questions and answers for March 4, 2008

Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

Carrie Cheadle, MA ( is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University.

Jon Heidemann ( is a USAC Elite Certified cycling coach with a BA in Health Sciences from the University of Wyoming. The 2001 Masters National Road Champion has competed at the Elite level nationally and internationally for over 14 years. As co-owner of Peak to Peak Training Systems, Jon has helped athletes of all ages earn over 84 podium medals at National & World Championship events during the past 8 years.

Dave Palese ( is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16 years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl, daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.

Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000. Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows, he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins, CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural, urgent care, inpatient and the like.

Fiona Lockhart ( is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting (Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10 years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.

Eddie Monnier ( is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track, road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from any geography.

David Fleckenstein, MPT ( is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes. He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.

Since 1986 Steve Hogg ( has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable cycling problem. Clients range from recreational riders and riders with disabilities to World and National champions.

Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.

Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated changes in menstrual function on bone health.

Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion. Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.

Dario Fredrick ( is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.

Scott Saifer ( has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.

Kendra Wenzel ( is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.

Steve Owens ( is a USA Cycling certified coach, exercise physiologist and owner of Colorado Premier Training. Steve has worked with both the United States Olympic Committee and Guatemalan Olympic Committee as an Exercise Physiologist. He holds a B.S. in Exercise & Sports Science and currently works with multiple national champions, professionals and World Cup level cyclists.

Through his highly customized online training format, Steve and his handpicked team of coaches at Colorado Premier Training work with cyclists and multisport athletes around the world.

Brett Aitken ( is a Sydney Olympic gold medalist. Born in Adelaide, Australia in 1971, Brett got into cycling through the cult sport of cycle speedway before crossing over into road and track racing. Since winning Olympic gold in the Madison with Scott McGrory, Brett has been working on his coaching business and his website.

Richard Stern ( is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive cyclist for 20 years

Andy Bloomer ( is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training. He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past 4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.

Michael Smartt ( is an Associate Coach with Whole Athlete™. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology, is a USA Cycling Level I (Elite) Coach and is certified by the NSCA (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). Michael has more than 10 years competitive experience, primarily on the road, but also in cross and mountain biking. He is currently focused on coaching road cyclists from Jr. to elite levels, but also advises triathletes and Paralympians. Michael is a strong advocate of training with power and has over 5 years experience with the use and analysis of power meters. Michael also spent the 2007 season as the Team Coach for the Value Act Capital Women's Cycling Team.

Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews, you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Back soreness after lowering stem
Arch cleat position
Road shoes
TT power output
Testosterone replacement as a result of bi-lateral testicular cancer

Back soreness after lowering stem

I am a 46 year old Cat 4 road racer. My mechanic recently dropped my handlebars down about a centimetre because there was a small crack in the carbon stem. He didn't think I would notice a difference riding, and I thought it might give me a more aerodynamic position. For short rides (10-20 miles) I don't notice much, but after longer rides both my lower and upper back are very sore. Is this something my back will get "trained" for over time, or am I risking long term back problems by continuing to ride this way? I've been riding in the lower position about three weeks.

Steve Hogg replies:

Firstly am I correct to assume that it was your fork steerer tube that was cracked and not your stem?

Arch cleat position


After reading recent article on arch cleat position from Steve Hogg would like to know if after moving cleat back towards arch of foot do you need to move saddle forward at all?


Steve Hogg replies:

The answer to that is as clear as mud. If you have read through the archives you will note that I am fairly keen on the rider bearing the great majority of their weight underneath their backsides and not using any more effort than the minimum necessary to steer and control the bike. The short answer to why that is, is that it gives the rider the best chance of optimising how their central nervous system prioritises efficient muscle enlistment patterns for cycling.

Road shoes

I am sure I've read something on the subject regarding the variety of rise in shoe lasts but can't seem to find the article.

Can you explain the pros/cons for flatter road shoes when compared to shoes that have a greater rise to the heel?

I currently wear Sidi Ergo 2s, but previously I wore Diadora Veloces which had a relatively flat carbon sole.


Steve Hogg replies:

Most commonly available shoes have low-ish heel lifts in the last at the moment, though some are lower than others. The basic issue is this. High heel lift cycling shoe lasts tend to require more ankle movement from riders whose natural technique is to drop their heels noticeably while pedaling under load. The amount of torque a rider can exert on a crank arm changes as the crank rotates and the peak value is at or near the 3 o'clock position of the crank arm. The 'problem' we are all trying to solve is how to get behind and over the pedal axle at the earliest possible point in the pedal stroke after top dead centre (TDC) which is 12 o'clock.

TT power output

I have a question regarding power output during a time trial. I am a 21 year old Cat 2 at 6'2 155-160 lbs. I have relatively short legs and a longer torso.

Road bike: 172.5 cranks Saddle height pedal to top is 78.5cm and 8.5cm behind.

TT bike: 175 cranks, saddle height pedal to top is 78.5cm and 5.0cm behind.

Saddle to bar drop and reach is nearly identical. I have been doing Z4 efforts (TT pace) all winter and spring so I have a pretty good idea of what I can ride at for 20-30 min. I did an 18 min power test in late January at 325 watts and my coach estimates a FT of 309 (what I could put out for only 20 min a year ago). I have been doing 3x 10 min Z4 efforts separated by 1 min rest and 20 min Z4 in training at between 315 and 325 watts for the past month or so. All of this was done on my road bike. I have been working on getting my TT bike set up.

I have always heard that if your position is too extreme that you will loose power by either over extending, creating too acute of angles or cutting of blood flow. I progressively made my position more aero until I did a 20 min Z4 effort and saw some real power loss (295 watts), got a terrible side stitch and had to stop. Then I went backwards and moved it to a slightly less aero position by raising the bars up by 5mm. Now I feel really comfortable with the position. My back seems flat, arms are flat and my knees are tucked right behind my elbows. This past weekend I did my first in competition TT on the bike and held 323 watts for 28:47 min over 20k. I feel like 323 is close enough to the power I am putting out in training especially given the time was longer and with less rest then I do in training.

I have also heard that because the TT position is further over the bottom bracket that it is possible to put out even more power on the TT bike then on the road bike, if that is true, then how do you account for that between the two bike positions? I don't have a wind tunnel so everything I do has to be experimental on the roads. So my question is how do you better determine if your position is optimal? Is it a guess and check to see if power is being lost?

Reid Beloni
Blacksburg, VA

Steve Owens replies:

I do have a wind tunnel, so I'll answer this one to the best of my ability.

Testosterone replacement as a result of bi-lateral testicular cancer

I recently saw a question on your forum about a 62 year old man using supplemental testosterone at his Doctors suggestion to improve energy and libido. You suggested that it was good that he was doing centuries and not racing, since he wouldn't be allowed to use this supplemental testosterone and still race, legally.

I am a bi-lateral testicular cancer survivor (lost both of my testicles to cancer), so my body doesn't produce any where near the normal amount of testosterone for my age, 30. I take Androgel every morning. It's a gel that I rub on my shoulders and abdomen. I get my testosterone levels checked regularly to ensure they are normal and near my naturally occurring level of 610 (taken after the first surgery and when I found out I'd be losing the second testicle). I understand that my natural levels can vary for many reasons, time of day, activity level, etc., so 610 is just one data point.

Having started cycling about 3 years ago, I finally feel that my fitness is to the point where I want to start racing at the most basic level. Will I ever be able to legally race or do I just have to be resigned to the fact that my cancer history has put me in a position where racing is not an option?

As you probably could assume, my position is that this would seem pretty unfair.


Steve Owens replies:

I would imagine that for you, a very special case, it would be possible to attain a therapeutic use exemption (or 'TUE') for your testosterone supplement. I'm not the authority on such things, but since your body does not produce the testosterone, I would only imagine the anti-doping folks would agree to let you use the supplement in competition. My guess would also be that if tested, your testosterone levels would have to fall in line with certain parameters - probably also outlined in your TUE.

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